How to aerate a compacted and waterlogged lawn

Aerating simply involves making small, but fairly deep holes through the grass into the soil. The holes allow air, water and essential nutrients to get from the surface into the soil.

  • With the aerating fork start along one edge of your lawn, step on the aeration fork to insert the tines and then pull it out. 
  • Take a 6 inch step back and repeat,  until you have aerated the complete lawn.   
  • Each time you step down, it should push out the previous soil core. Another way is to use spiked aeration boots or a garden fork. See below...
Aerating with a garden fork
Aerating with a garden fork

Why aerate a lawn?

Aeration is an important factor in keeping lawns healthy and helps stop waterlogging. 


These are the main benefits of aerating a compacted lawn.

  • Aeration breaks through the thick thatch that sometimes builds up, especially in neglected lawns, between the grass and the soil and also breaks through the compacted soil below the grass, common in lawns that get heavy use. Without aeration nutrients and water will be unable to pass through the soil to reach the grass roots, so starving the grass and feeding the weeds instead, with rainwater puddling on the surface and eventually evaporating instead of percolating into the lawn.
  • Stimulates new root growth.
  • Helps with lawn drainage and absorption.
  • Increases the uptake of nutrients.

When is the best time to aerate a lawn?


The best time to aerate is during the growing season avoiding very hot weather that makes the soil dry and difficult to penetrate, so early or late spring or autumn are the best times, but anytime is better than none.


How do I know a Lawn Needs Aerating?


The signs that tell you your lawn needs aeration are not always obvious, but lawns especially on heavy clay soil that get regular heavy use and show wear and tear and thinning, turning brown quickly in dry weather need to be aerated on a regular basis, at least once a year. Or you may have had a visit from Mike the flowerpotman to investigate a lawn drainage problem who to your relief tells you that the lawn is compacted and won't need to be dug up and drainage installed, just aerated. 


Your lawn will need aerating if:

  • The surface feels hard and you can't easily sink a shovel to a depth of half the blade
  • Water puddling on lawn after rain for longer than a couple of hours.
  • Vehicles driving or parking on lawn or heavy play use.
  • Thatch thicker than one-half inch.
  • Difficulty pushing a pencil into the soil.
  • Heavy clay soil. Tips to break-up clay
  • Thin, patchy or bare patches in grass (worth checking out other causes like Leather jackets first)


How to aerate your lawn

 Aeration Forks and how to use them.
Aeration tools are simply forks that have  hollow metal tines you push into soil and then pull out, removing a core of grass, roots and soil, forming and leaving a small hole in the lawn. Aerating allows air to get into the soil and rain water to drain from the surface into the earth below, instead of puddling.
Aerate a lawn manually .
With the aerating fork, start along one edge of your lawn, step on the aeration fork to insert the tines and then pull it out.  Take a 6 inch step back and repeat,  until you have aerated the complete lawn.   Each time you step down, it should push out the previous soil core. Another way is to use spiked aeration boots.
On soggy grass and wet clay, If the tynes clog up and nothing comes out, use a screwdriver to poke out the aeration tube. When finished, your lawn will have little plugs of earth  scattered all over it.  
Best to  leave them to break down  or if you are a fussy gardener use the back of a metal rake to break them up.
Aerating a waterlogged lawn that puddles with surface water, before aerating, spread grit/sharp sand listed below over the lawn, leaving the tips of the grass showing. The sand will fill the holes as you fork it over helping to keep the holes open, allowing water and air to reach the roots.
Hard work, but you will end up with a healthier lawn.
Heavy Duty Hollow Tine Aerator
  • Heavy Duty Aerator for compacted soils and lawns
  • Removes cores for longer lasting aeration particularly on clay soils
  • Use anytime for all over lawn aeration
  • Aerating helps revive dry patches or hard areas
  • Helps reduce moss in damp areas by improving drainage
  • Aerating with this heavy duty aerator after installing french drains helps the system work to full capacity.
  • Easily the simplest tool to use I have found.
  • Durable And Sturdy Lawn Aerator With Pp Wheel For Easy Rolling.
  • 35mm Spikes Gives Your Lawn The Oxygen It Needs 
  • Dimension:10 X 38 X 40cm


 Using spiked shoes is probably the easiest way to effectively aerate your lawn. 

Lawn Aerator Shoes come with 4 Adjustable Straps and Strong Zinc Alloy Buckles and fit All Shoes or Boots. Walk Your Way to a healthier Lawn for Effective Garden Aeration. 

Fitter you and a better lawn.


How to aerate and apply sharp sand to a waterlogged lawn


This Is the Grit sand to use, do not use builders sand it will clog up the soil.
As soon as possible after the drainage has been installed or simply to improve a compacted lawn, spread this grit sand over the whole area to be turfed, including the French drain trenches and aerate the surface, this ensures the drains work to full capacity by draining surface water into the soil and drainage channels. 
When spreading the  grit sand over the lawn make sure you leave the tips of the grass showing.
Aerating the whole area using grit sand, including over the trenches, ensures surface water drains from the surface into the soil and drainage system.